Friday, July 31, 2015

Giveaway Winners & Special Announcements!

Hello Friends,

Just a quick post today to announce the "Make Things Happen" giveaway winners and tell you about two other upcoming events that you will not want to miss!

I had so much fun reading your guesses about my favorite color! You guys are such good sports! Many of your guesses were very close. To be precise, my favorite color is. . .dah, dah, dah. . .


Isn't that color so beautiful? Robins know what they are doing when they lay their eggs. Pure perfection in my eyes.

Now for the lucky Rafflecopter winners! Congratulations to Kelly B., Emily L., and Michele H.! Your motivational picture frames will be in the mail shortly! Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I sure wish I had the time to paint one for all of you! :-)

Also, I have two more special announcements! I will be co-hosting the First Day Tried & True linky party with my friend Sarah Tighe from Education Electrification. The fun begins this Sunday! If you are looking for some fresh ideas for the first day of school, stop back on Sunday to read about the many tried and true ideas from nearly fifty teacher bloggers! The party starts at 8:00 A.M. (EDT)!


Last (but certainly not least), have you heard the news?!?

It is time for the annual Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale (insert happy dance)! Save up to 28% with the PROMO code BTS15. Get your wish lists ready this weekend and remember to leave feedback on all prior purchases for even more TPT savings! 


Every item in my shop will be on sale for 28% off, including all lapbooks and interactive kits! You might want to take a peek at my latest reading strategies lapbook. It is a year-long double lapbook that includes 25 common reading strategies for grades 3 and 4! Have your students make a collection of strategies to refer back to throughout the year!


Thanks so much for dropping by today! I sure hope to see you again on Sunday! :-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Creative Space Plus a Giveaway!

Do you have a creative space to call your own? It is something that I have longed for my whole life. I have never lived in a house that had an office space or even a spare bedroom. All of my creating has happened at the kitchen table, dining room table, or couch.

Until now. Yay!


Some of you may know that I celebrated a special milestone birthday this month. I made my husband promise not to plan any type of surprise party on my behalf. While I love a good party, I definitely do not enjoy being the center of attention at a celebration. Thankfully, he honored my request and in place of a party, planned out this very special surprise that is the best gift I have ever received. Like ever.

This space makes my heart sing.


The best part about this gift from my husband is that he secretly made it happen during my three day trip to Vegas. He had previously picked out the desk from a local consignment shop and had them paint and distress it with my favorite Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint makes everything look beautiful. I could not have picked a better desk myself. It is absolutely perfect for what I do.


The floating shelf is so functional. I love how I can just reach up and grab the paper I need for making lapbooks.

Check out the desk pull-out that gives me extra work space! I'll have to try really hard not to get marker and glue stick on that smooth white surface.


I also love the hanging file system for organizing my work(s) in progress. That lapbook in the top file is my current project. Follow my TPT store to be the first to know about it. ;-)


Now let me zoom out and show you the whole desk. It is located in a corner of my family room. He actually had that whole room painted as a part of the surprise. The Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter is such a wonderful neutral background for decorating.


I am still shopping around for a comfy office chair. The wooden chair is actually from my kitchen. It looks great with the desk, but does not feel so good on the back after long hours of sitting at a computer.

Here are a few other special parts of my new space. My nine year old daughter picked out those glass jars and filled them with the tools she knows I love to use.


Now I finally have a creative place to call my own. I feel so happy just sitting there at that desk with the dogs wrapped around my legs, the kids playing behind my back, and the smell of dinner wafting from the kitchen. All of this thanks to Ray, the one who listens and knows what I truly want and need.

In celebration of my new creative space, I would like to give away three special little homemade prizes that you could place in your own creative work place.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Dailey Photography

I made these as gifts for some of my TPT buddies at a recent local meet up here in Pennsylvania. I hand painted the frames with (my favorite) Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and gave them a good coat of protective wax. There is a little wooden peg in the back to make the frame stand up on a desk.  I have three of these motivational quote frames sitting here on my desk just waiting for a home! 

I will happily mail one to you if your name is randomly selected from the Rafflecopter giveaway. You can submit five entries by following along with me below. The contest ends on July 31st and prizes will be shipped during the first week of August. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Task Card Storage Solution


One of my goals for the summer was to revamp and reorganize some things in my classroom.  I bought so many task cards last school year and my growing collection was in some serious need of organization.

Here is an email I received on the last day of school.


Those puppies were just calling my name, so I sent a rapid reply to claim them. I mean, who can let ten good clementine boxes go to waste?

At first, I had no idea how I was going to use the boxes. They sat in a pile in my dining room just waiting for a purpose. Then it struck me over a bowl of breakfast cereal. Those things look like they will fit my task card file folders. Sure enough, they did! It was a PERRRRRRFECT fit!

The following pictures will show you how I transformed clementine boxes into task card holders.


First, you will want to pick up a few cans of spray paint. I bought mine at Walmart for $3.86 per can.  Remove all of the plastic netting on the clementine boxes and pull out the loose staples. I used a small flat head screw driver.


Then, take everything outside and spray away! Use gloves if you want to protect your manicure. I learned that lesson the hard way with my first summer project. I decided to spray only the outside of my clementine boxes. 


While you are waiting for the spray paint to dry, get your task cards organized. These plastic file folders are coupon organizers from the Dollar Tree. I have also seen them in the Dollar Spot at Target. They are a fairly standard size, measuring seven inches in length. These coupon organizers fit perfectly in the clementine boxes. I used my handy dandy label machine to make some labels for each set of task cards.


Then, you will want to make some labels for the front of each clementine task card box. I made mine on the computer with this adorable monster clip art from Whimsy Clips. I laminated them with self-laminating sheets from the Dollar Tree (pictured below). 

Once the spray paint is completely dry, clip the labels to the front of each box using small binder clips.


Then you are all set! The colors and possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Viva Las Vegas! A TPT Conference Linky


I have hooked up with The Elementary Entourage today for a fun linky that is filled with stories from TpT sellers who visited Las Vegas for the 2015 TpT Conference. In case you are interested, here's mine!

Well, the plane has safely landed, but it left me on cloud nine. Seriously friends, I am going to crash from this TpT high I have going on right now. Brace yourself because this post might get a little sappy.


Have you ever had that moment in your life when everything just comes together? I waited forty years for it to happen. The two puzzle pieces were sitting there all along, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make them fit together.

From a very early age, I did know that teaching was my calling. That was an easy revelation and it was one of the puzzle pieces. It is the part of the puzzle that has been my career for 18 years. It is the part of the puzzle that gets me out of bed every morning and gives my life purpose.

The other thing I have always known about myself is that creation is my specialty. I’m definitely not an artist, but I probably love colors, shapes, lines and patterns more than most people. My brain just loves to think about those things and my eyes are drawn to design. Creating things makes me happy. Creativity is the other piece of the puzzle. It is the part of the puzzle that brings me joy.

Teaching + Creating= Life Purpose & Joy

Teachers Pay Teachers is the marriage of the two. This is what happened when TpT became a part of my life.



So, this week in Vegas, as I sat in that crowd of amazing people, I thought to myself.

Self, this is what you were meant to be. It has been sitting there in front of you all along you big dummy. Snap those puzzle pieces into place and make it happen. Make. It. Happen.

In my opinion, teachers are the best people in the world. Teachers care. Teachers share. Teachers are passionate. Teachers make an impact on the world. Put a group of teachers in a room together and the greatness is so intense that it makes me feel intoxicated. I’m not kidding. I did not drink a single drop of alcohol in Vegas, but I may very well have a hang over in the morning.

My goal for going to the TpT conference in Vegas was to meet some really awesome people. It is safe to say that I accomplished that goal.

TPT Founder Paul Edelman. Check. So sweet and humble.


TPT CEO Adam Freed. Check. Super smart and really nice.


My idol Deanna Jump. The fabulous Deedee Wills. Double check. Can't believe I was even in the same room with these ladies. Yikes!


The brilliant Rachel Lynette. Check. I love her even more now that I met her in person.


Goodness. I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about it.

Then, let me tell you about these two amazing ladies. I know that God sent them into my life for a reason. Brynn from The Literary Maven and Angie from Fun in Fifth Grade are both other TpTers from my beautiful state of Pennsylvania. Brynn is actually the first real, live TPT seller I met back in February. She introduced me to Angie and I could tell right away that we would be friends. It just felt right. I feel mushy, gushy thankful for their friendship and support this week. It feels so good to hang out with people who are so like-minded. They even tolerated my need to run for front row seats in every session. :-)


Now, let me tell you about Laine from A Little Peace of Africa. I had the pleasure of meeting Laine on my first night in Vegas. Fate would have it that I plopped down in the only dinner seat left, right across from Laine at the B & B Burger and Beer. This brave lady traveled all the way from South Africa to be at the conference! She is just so stinkin’ cute with that South African accent. Not to mention that she was bubbling over with enthusiasm and friendliness. Laine gave me this special bracelet that is more than a business card. You can read about it here. Laine is a talented artist and she makes clip art and digital papers that you need to check out.

I met so, so many other awesome people at the conference. This is Suzanne from Kindergarten Planet. She was on my list of “hope to meets” since our blogs were practically born on the same day and we have become virtual buddies. I’m so happy that we bumped into each other at breakfast.



I must also show you some pictures of The Venetian. The pictures will speak for themselves.





Of course I did a little of this. 



And a little of this. That banana crepe was insane. I may or may not have eaten two of them during my stay in Vegas.



I even won this hilarious door prize at the The Primary Pack meet up. Read the words if you want to blush. Hee hee. I never win anything, so it was really fun to prance up and accept that prize. I’m sure that the hubs will find me simply irresistible in this night shirt. Did I mention that he and I spent a long distance 11 year anniversary during my Vegas trip? I am so grateful to him. My husband is the table that supports my puzzle pieces and the glue that bonds them together.



Finally, I want to leave you with these pictures. Las Vegas is smack dab in the middle of a desert. I once drove through that desert, but this time I had a very cool perspective from up in the plane as I departed. Isn’t it amazing? There are so many things that you can see from up high that are not as apparent when they are right in front of you.



If you got all the way to the end of this post, I’m sending you a virtual hug for reading all the way through. If your puzzle pieces haven’t come together yet (whatever they may be), I’m sending good karma your way so that you will hear the click very soon.

Stay tuned for my next post that will share a helpful tip for organizing task cards in a repurposed container.

Now, head on over to The Elementary Entourage to read about so many other Vegas experiences! Have fun!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Do It Yourself Privacy Folders

I made a class set of student privacy folders during the summer after my first year of teaching. They were only made out of laminated poster board, but held up surprisingly well for nearly two decades! It was finally time for those old privacy folders to retire, so I decided to make some new ones that should hopefully last until I am ready to retire. :-)

Save money by making privacy folders out of display boards from the dollar store. This step by step tutorial will show you how.

Have you checked out the price of store-bought privacy folders? They cost about $80 (plus shipping) for a set of 24 folders. Ouch! I made mine for less than half of the price, and they are much more unique and colorful. If you want to make yourself a set, head on over to the dollar store and pick yourself up some of these project display boards. 


Each board will make two privacy folders. I bought 14 display boards to make 28 folders. Here is a picture of the final product. Notice that I shortened the length of the center part of the display board so it will fit better on a desk. The following pictures will show you how I cut and assembled the privacy folders.


First, cut each display board in half. The half-way mark on my display board was a little shy of 14 inches. I used a T-square ruler and a razor blade to make a nice, straight line. Once I cut the first display board, I just used that one as a template to measure all of the others.


Next, open up one of the privacy folders and measure 15 inches across the center part. Cut on that line as pictured.


You will remove part of the center section and then reattach the side with duct tape.


Cut at the crease so you can remove that section.


Get rid of that center piece. Or (in my case), give those pieces of cardboard to your kids so they can be creative. My daughter made three bird houses with those scrap pieces.


Then, use duct tape to attach the right side to the privacy folder. Balance it out by adding a strip of tape to the left side. I bought five rolls of patterned duct tape at the dollar store and also used some left over tape I already had at home from another project.


Now for the fun part! Spray paint the back (brown) side of each privacy folder. I used five cans of spray paint, plus a few half-empty cans I had in my basement. My husband just loves the new colorful look of his saw horses. ;-)


Let your privacy folders sit overnight so they are nice and dry. Then place a strip of duct tape on each of the two outer creases. 


I worked on my privacy folders over a period of three days. It was a lot of work, but I am really happy with the results. Now I can tuck them away until September, as I enjoy the next two months of summer. 

Thanks for stopping by!